ROBERTSDALE – Before Wednesday’s start of the academic year, more than 4,000 Baldwin County Public Schools employees gathered to start the term with calls for unity and family.
The 29th annual Teacher Institute was held Aug. 9 in the Baldwin County Coliseum in Robertsdale. Superintendent of Education Eddie Tyler told the audience that no matter what their position, teachers, nurses, or other employees, they were all responsible for the education of Baldwin County’s children. Tyler, a former coach, compared the moment to the start of a big game.
“You’re an educator, all of you, all 4,000 of you,” Tyler said. “You’ve been preparing all summer for this moment. I saw a lot of you when you came in here. I said, ‘it’s go time,’ If you speak the vernacular of a coach, it’s go time.”
Tyler said that even though Baldwin County’s school system is the third largest in Alabama, the system still has a close feeling.
“I’ve been in several school systems, small and big, but there’s still a feeling of family in Baldwin County schools,” he said.
He said that in a time when divisive feelings are being generated around the country, standing together as a family and working to educate and protect Baldwin County children is a major task for educators.
“Unfortunately, there are those among us, those out there in society who have an unwillingness to break though those things that divide us, but we as a family in Baldwin County can break through and we can condemn the hatred, condemn the violence that people have for others,” Tyler said. “We can be the change makers.”
Another aspect of looking after Baldwin students is security. Tyler said Tuesday that Baldwin County is the only school system in the state with a trained, armed police officer, either a Baldwin County Sheriff’s deputy or municipal police officer assigned to every school system in the county as a school resource officer.
Speaking for county law enforcement at the institute, Foley Police Chief David Wilson said protecting children is a major responsibility for police throughout Baldwin. He said local school resource officers understand the community, its children and its needs and serve as mentors and examples for students as well as security.
“The school resource officers are some to the best we’ve got who are assigned to our schools,” Wilson said. “You are our number one priority.”
School opened Wednesday across Baldwin County with about 31,000 students expected in the county public school system.
Tyler challenged the employees to make 2019-2020 a good year for the county and its children.
“We can make this year one of the greatest in the history of Baldwin County schools,” he said. “How do you want to be remembered? What legacy do you want to leave behind?”